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Old 16th December 2013, 18:15   #31
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Hey Guys,

I started this thread as I didn't see anything similar to my situation and hope that this would help some of you guys in my boat (if any). I would like to start off saying that I felt that I didn't have much connection with India so I decided to plunge in on an apartment in South Chennai (Velachery) to keep myself and my family in touch with our roots. We are a family of four, myself, wife and two kids, settled in the U.S. for too many years to count. We will be traveling to India this summer and every summer in future if not every other summer. And planning to staying for 2 to 3 months every time to absorbs the culture and show my kids their roots. On our previous visits, we employed call taxis for day to day use and rental cars with drivers for long trips. Even with the advancements with call taxis these days, we have had bad experiences with the taxis (a/c not working, failing to start and constantly breaking down) and drivers (not punctual, sometimes don't show up at all and EXTREMELY rude). So this time I have decided to purchase a car. So, I would like to get your opinions and advice before I decide. So, guys feel free to throw your ideas in and want to thank you guys in advance for helping me. And, one more thing I am a retired Indian Navy Officer, so I have complete access the CSD canteen pricing for cars.

Criteria:
Safety: My number one concern is safety. It is imperative that the car have airbags, ABS and good safety ratings. I keep telling myself that this is negotiable.
Budget: The lower the better with the above requirement in mind. Realistically 4 to 6 lacs for a new car and 2 to 4 for a used car. Also, keep in mind that if I decide to purchase a new car I can go for a CSD Canteen discount pricing benefit.
New or Used: Doesn't matter as long as if it is a new I can get a near immediate delivery and if used it has to be very reliable so no breaking down every week.
Type: Preferably hatchback or sedan as the cost will be lower. But, realistically anything that can seat 4 comfortably with decent room in the rear seats and sometimes 5 (rare time when we have a driver, I plan on driving most of the time) with a decent amount of shopping bags.
Transmission: Preferably automatic but wouldn't mind a manual if the cost difference is too much say more than 1 lac.
Fuel: Petrol since initial invest is cheaper than diesel and I will be only driving few months in a year and the car will be in storage for the remainder of the year. So, it doesn't make sense for the extra premium for diesel. That being said, I don't have any aversion to diesel. So basically whatever is cheaper.
Use: The car will be used like I said for few months each year and be stored for the remainder if the time. Mostly will be utilized for city runs daily with few long trips. Also, I plan on being the sole driver and plan on hiring a driver for the long trips only if necessary.
Reliability: Very. Must handle being stored for long periods of time. So good after sales support and service.

***I am also toying with the idea of leasing the car out to a taxi operator like Fast Track Call Taxi company while I am in the U.S. This way the car can be put to use instead of being in storage and earn some money at the same time too. What do you guys think? Is it a good idea? My concern with this idea is that I don't want the car to be abused and broken. Also, if i decide to do this would this narrow my car options and would I need a yellow plate registration (if thats the case then would I be able to use it for personal use when I am in India.)***

As I mentioned earlier, the car will need to sit idle for almost a year regularly in a medium apartment complex in Velachery, Chennai, South India. How much would this degrade the car and what about safety? Would I need to constantly worry about it being stolen or the parts being stolen.

Also, I have a U.S. drivers license. Would I be able to drive in India with that or do I need to go in for an International Drivers License?

I know this is a lot of question but thanks in advance for your time and help guys. Or worst comes to worst, should I cut my loses and drop this idea and continue with Call Taxis? Let me know guys. I will be eagerly waiting to the replies to pour in.

With love,
Mukesh

Last edited by Rehaan : 17th December 2013 at 11:57. Reason: Fixing a bold tag ;)
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Old 17th December 2013, 07:52   #32
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Default Re: Best Car/ Logical Option for NRIs for using every summer

Well, the only car that comes to my mind is the Honda Brio AT. It will be ideal for in city use (with 4), but may not be the best choice for longer highway drives.

Another option that you could consider is leasing a self drive car I reckon you should be able to hire one for 45 days for ~ 50,000 Rs/- (you can get a Swift for ~ 1300 Rs/day, I'm assuming long term rentals will be somewhat cheaper) this will be much more economical than the cost (and hassle of ownership) plus it gives you the flexibility of "upgrading" for the outstation long drives and ensures that your car is always well maintained/serviced.

Last edited by adisag : 17th December 2013 at 07:53.
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Old 17th December 2013, 09:30   #33
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2 years back when we visited India we always used some relatives spare car. Then 1.5 years back I shifted here and my mom and brother shifted here 8 months back. During my dads Diwali visit, we used the autoriders self driven rental car. Their services are really good and quite economical too. I had used their swift dzire for a day in pune. The car had done about 200k kms but was in top notch condition. We got a used wagonr a few days back so won't be using their services again.
If you car is going to sit idle for the rest of the year it is better to take a self driven swift or ritz.
It will be cheaper.
If you are much inclined towards buying a car, I suggest go through mahindra first choice, Maruti true value and cartrade.com. They have certified used car with warranty and free services. I got our wagonr from Cartrade.com. I feel you should go in for a used Toyota corolla. It would be comfortable, very reliable and light on pocket too. You will be able to get a used corolla below 6lakhs. You can get an automatic or manual according to the availability and which suits your needs. All the best

Asit
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Old 17th December 2013, 09:48   #34
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Default Re: Best Car/ Logical Option for NRIs for using every summer

The rental does seem like a good thought, definitely on the back of my mind. But, wouldn't it be cheaper if I just bought a new or used car at the beginning of the trip and sold it 2-3 months near the end of the trip. And I can write off the difference (if any) in price as "lease" cost. Would this way save me any money or is it just not worth the hassle of buying a car and selling quite immediately. Ohh, and if I buy a car from the canteen I have to wait a few years before I can buy one again. So, can't be doing this every summer if I buy a new car.

And what do you guys think of leasing the car to taxi companies such as Fast Track Call Taxi. Its a way to put the car to use and make money so it technically pays for it self? Any experiences.

Last edited by spartanhero : 17th December 2013 at 09:52. Reason: adding
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Old 17th December 2013, 09:58   #35
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Default Re: Best Car/ Logical Option for NRIs for using every summer

Unfortunately few of your criteria are close to mutually exclusive. 6 Lakhs, Automatic, Safety Features, Spacious Rear.

Realistically the only Auto option under 6 Lakhs is the A-Star, which pretty much does not meet most of your other criteria.
In the 7-8.5 Lakhs segment you get a bunch of cars: Ritz, Brio, Dzire, Micra, Grand i10. Out of these only Brio and Micra meet your Safety Features criteria. Considering all your other criteria Brio is the best apart from the boot space which is quite limited.

if you can drop your Automatic criteria, you will have more options at 6-7 Lakhs.

One other option for Automatic is: I think you can get ~3 yr old Used Honda City AT in the 5-6 Lakh Range. Satisfies all your criteria perfectly (Not sure if there is any issue with leaving it unused for 8-9 months)

Maybe leasing to a self drive agency can work (Like we have Zoomin in Bangalore). If I am not mistaken, these are Black and Yellow board vehicles which can be driven with the regular license. leasing as a regular taxi will require a yellow board and I don't think you can drive it with the regular license. But I may be totally wrong.

Last edited by Rajeevraj : 17th December 2013 at 10:02. Reason: More content
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Old 17th December 2013, 10:18   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
Unfortunately few of your criteria are close to mutually exclusive. 6 Lakhs, Automatic, Safety Features, Spacious Rear. Realistically the only Auto option under 6 Lakhs is the A-Star, which pretty much does not meet most of your other criteria. In the 7-8.5 Lakhs segment you get a bunch of cars: Ritz, Brio, Dzire, Micra, Grand i10. Out of these only Brio and Micra meet your Safety Features criteria. Considering all your other criteria Brio is the best apart from the boot space which is quite limited. if you can drop your Automatic criteria, you will have more options at 6-7 Lakhs. One other option for Automatic is: I think you can get ~3 yr old Used Honda City AT in the 5-6 Lakh Range. Satisfies all your criteria perfectly (Not sure if there is any issue with leaving it unused for 8-9 months) Maybe leasing to a self drive agency can work (Like we have Zoomin in Bangalore). If I am not mistaken, these are Black and Yellow board vehicles which can be driven with the regular license. leasing as a regular taxi will require a yellow board and I don't think you can drive it with the regular license. But I may be totally wrong.
What you have stated is correct. Self driven rental cars have black plates with yellow lettering, whereas the vehicles with yellow plates and black lettering require a tourist vehicle license. For self driven rental cars your license should Be atleast 3 years old. This was one condition with autoriders. I don't know about the rest of the cab rental firms.
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Old 17th December 2013, 10:20   #37
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Default Re: Best Car/ Logical Option for NRIs for using every summer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
Unfortunately few of your criteria are close to mutually exclusive. 6 Lakhs, Automatic, Safety Features, Spacious Rear.


One other option for Automatic is: I think you can get ~3 yr old Used Honda City AT in the 5-6 Lakh Range. Satisfies all your criteria perfectly (Not sure if there is any issue with leaving it unused for 8-9 months)
I would also suggest the same thing. A used Honda City AT (around 3 years) should be available within your budget. This will meet all your requirements and would be easy to service (the service support is pretty good generally for Honda).
I wouldn't recommend leasing out the car to taxi operators - that is a definite recipe for disaster as far as the car is concerned. Drivers (taxi drivers particularly) handle their cars pretty badly in general.
That said, I am not sure whether keeping a car idle for most of the year is a good idea. Maybe you could ask some relative or friend to use it once in a way?
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Old 17th December 2013, 11:38   #38
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Default Re: Best Car/ Logical Option for NRIs for using every summer

I am not in favor of leasing it out in your absence. You wouldnt have control of it/ even see it's condition till you are back the next year. And a car that gets leased will get really really used.
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Old 17th December 2013, 12:17   #39
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Default Re: Best Car/ Logical Option for NRIs for using every summer

If I were in your shoes, definitely I would have rented out a SUV and travel in peace and luxury (It ticks all your condition clauses like safety and reliability). I would not want to squeeze my family of four into some small hatchback during a vacation ! Considering the fact that you are settled in the US for too many years to count, boss why do you want to settle for a low end car and even think about 'earning some money' by renting it out! I can guarantee that if not for a depreciation of at at least 25% (that too in just 2 months) you'll not be able to sell your car in the expected time frame.

IMHO don't think beyond renting out a GOOD car!
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Old 17th December 2013, 12:39   #40
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Default Re: Best Car/ Logical Option for NRIs for using every summer

You say you are entitled to canteen pricing, I for one do not know the exact details of what kind of discount they offer and I'm sure a lot of us here don't know either so unless you can tell us if there is a fixed discount rate or give us a bunch of options, we cannot help you out that much.

Disregarding the discounts you say you can get, with a 4-6 lac budget, there are not many cars that will seat 4 comfortably and offer up good safety tech that I know of. It is either one or the other in that price range. So used car it is then. Which ones?:
Honda Civic: tons out there so it might take a while finding the right one. The car can comfortably seat 4, comes with basic safety kit (abs, ebd, two airbags), good car to drive and has an automatic option.
Nissan Teana 2007-2009: The most comfortable car in the budget, comes with good levels of safety, big car and CVT box. However parts will be more expensive because this was an import.
Honda Jazz: Just extremely practical, easy to maintain, small on the outside with loads of space and visibility on the inside so it's perfect for our roads. No automatic option though
Maruti Suzuki SX4: Proven reliability, spacious and practical, cheap to maintain, good petrol motor, available automatic is not too good though.
None of the other small hatches are included because 4 people travelling with any sort of luggage in cars like the Swift or Brio, will be a pain after a while.

Last edited by IshaanIan : 17th December 2013 at 12:40.
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Old 17th December 2013, 12:54   #41
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Moderator note: Back to back posts, please wait for moderator approval and then edit the original post. Thanks.

Thanks guys for you advice, like many of you said, and especially sajusherief, I too think it is best to go with a rental car considering all the hassle involved. Now, do you guys have any recommendations on rental companies and anything to look for in particular?

IshaanIan-
If you go to the link below and select four wheelers under product categories, you can see most of the car models offered and their prices along with all other products sold.

http://www.csdindia.gov.in/Customer/SearchAFDI.aspx

Oh by the way, the budget isn't really fixed, it was more of a guideline. I am willing to spend more if it satisfies my needs.

Last edited by Jaggu : 17th December 2013 at 13:01.
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Old 18th December 2013, 17:40   #42
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Default Re: Temporary Car Options (for only 30 - 40 days of use)

Rent, dude. Plus, it's not like you'll need a car for each day of the 2 - 3 months that you're here.

Hopefully, a solution like Zoom drive is there in Chennai by then.
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